When did you leave school?

There is much talk currently about reskilling for the “new normal” or the future. This is sometimes linked to the perennial saw of productivity or as a key to business growth. While we may be aware of some skills being or becoming obsolete, these are usually of a technical nature and we may think we have all the skills, knowledge and experience we need for our current role.

How many of the tools and techniques we learned in school are still relevant and useful? When did you last use a slide rule, a protractor or a logarithm? That is not to say that they were never useful.

Much of what we actually learned at school was how to learn, which may colour how we think about learning. As we mature, we often realise that we can and do learn in many ways – from online courses, books, people, songs, films, conversations and many more. What was the last thing you learned and how did that learning happen? It is much easier if we are aware and alert to opportunities.

Some skills are useful in only limited areas, others have more universal application. Recent surveys have highlighted a growing recognition of a need to improve IT skills, not surprising as we have all become more familiar, if not comfortable with Zoom and the like. The same surveys also identified a need for improved Cognitive skills, such as Assertiveness, Creativity and Problem Solving and Social skills such as Communication, Teamwork and Leadership. These will be even more important as we embrace new ideas, ways of working and managing those with the new skills.

What areas do you recognise where you need to learn, re-learn or refresh?

Some professions seem particularly prone to blind-spots in their learning. While accountants, lawyers and engineers are often keen to stay current with their functional knowledge and skills, they often neglect social and management skills. This is also sometimes true of senior managers.

Athletes, military personnel and performers never stop learning, as they strive to hone their skills, whether they call it practice, training or rehearsing. When you think of people like them, or in other fields of human endeavour you come to realise that we need to be constantly learning, growing and developing or we just stagnate and wither.

My favourite example of someone with a real growth mindset is when my mother revealed onher 80th birthday that she had taken up archery. So, when did you last stop and reflect on your performance and adapt and adopt a new behaviour, habit or thought pattern?